Url Phantomhive

Url Phantomhive

Trying to shed a light on the wonderful maze of books...

3 Stars
Sisters - Louisa May Alcott

Until the recent Little Women movie, I have to admit I was rather unaware of the book. I knew it existed, but as one of the many classics I vaguely recognize the title of. I was completely unaware that this little book, which had been lingering on my shelves for some time, contained fragments of Little Women.

I had bought Sisters, first because I have two sisters myself and second because I wanted to try out this Vintage Mini series to see if they were as nice as the Little Black Classics (although they are about five times as expensive). Having seen the movie and making the connection, I wanted to read it.

It is a short read, selecting certain scenes of particular sisterhood between the sisters. The writing was nice, but the passages were rather short. I would however, like to read the full book sometimes. I am however, not really convinced of the Vintage Mini concept, and think I will just keep it at this one.

3 Stars
Grey Souls
Grey Souls - Philippe Claudel

Grey Souls was another bookclub read from a meeting that unfortunately could not take place due to the COVID-19 social distancing we are currently in. This was not a book I would have picked myself, and although I once read Monsieur Linh and His Child I did not remember much about it (I looked up my review and apparently, I liked it at the time).

Grey Souls is set during and after the First World War in a French village that is close to the fighting but not actually involved. Certain events take place during this time, that influence the main character as he looks back at the last twenty years. It starts with a little girl found murdered, but solving the case is hardly the main topic of the book.

For me, Grey Souls fit perfectly in the same tradition of Flemish literature, where in a small village many events are brought up over a period of time, and the reader is left to some extent to wonder, what is the meaning of this. What is the goal of this book? What is the main story. Grey Souls was very much like this, and while I do not dislike the style, I am often left with a feeling that there could have been a bit more in the story. (At some point in the book, the murdered girl had not been mentioned for so long that I started to question whether a girl was murdered in this book - a problem arising with me reading multiple book at once all the time). The writing was nice, but I fear the book all together will be forgotten soon.

3 Stars
Through The Language Glass
Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages - Guy Deutscher

I bought this book on February 1st at a bookstore in Aachen, Germany, during what they called 'Bye Bye-Brexit rabat' (Bye Bye Brexit Sale) which was 20% discount on all English books. Obviously, I couldn't resist.

I went on to convince the book club I recently joined to read it as our next read, but unfortunately because of the entire Covid19 situation, we haven't had the possibility to discuss the book. I now feel a little bit sorry for them, as the book was not really what I hoped it would be.

The subject fascinates me. When I was a small child, growing up speaking Dutch, for a time I believed (I am embarrassed to admit) that everyone always thought in Dutch, but that two French people for example, would then decide to speak French to each other. I quickly learned this was not the case, but it kept me interested in how someones language might influence how people think. Which is why I wanted to read Through the Language Glass.

The author himself is very much interested in colors. And a large part of the book is in fact about the evolution of the naming of colors in languages. While interesting, I thought it was rather a bit too extensive. The remainder of the book was filled with some interesting facts, which might come to use at a pub quiz but the argument for the influence between language and thought was never very strong.

Most interestingly I found the argument that some languages are forcing people to convey information in a certain sentence that other do not. For example, if your languages has changing verbs announcing how certain you are something happened, you have to think about it before making that sentence. If you have different verbs for something that happened one day or a week ago, again you have to think about. Same for languages who unlike English have gendered words.

Ultimately, the effect that was measured was rather small, I'd argue. While difficult to measure objectively, is thinking colors are further apart from each other when they cross an arbitrary color-name boundary something that is important enough to consider this a significant effect of language on thought? I am not convinced. 

3 Stars
Deadly Intent
Deadly Intent - Lynda La Plante

Deadly Intent was a book that had been lurking on my shelves for the past 6 years. I bought it during a time I was reading a lot of police procedurals and I had heard the name of Lynda La Plante often so I wanted to give it a try.

It comes in over 600 pages and makes you wonder. Does a police procedural need to be thing long? The answer is probably no. I felt it could have been shortened with at least a hundred pages without losing any of the information in it.

This is the fourth book in the series, but the first one I read. Therefore I was not as connected with the characters as could have been. There was quite some tension, with the main character Anna making some stupid decisions.

As a crime novel, it was fine, but not the kind of special I had hoped for. (This is also much less my genre now than it was back when I bought it, which my account for some of it).

3 Stars
Finna - Nino Cipri

You are leisurely strolling through a large yellow and blue home depot when you accidentally walk into a wormhole. It could happen to the best of us. The unfortunate problem is, the underpaid employees will have to come and fetch you back.

I was expecting a quirky read, possibly with a lot of humor, because the premise did not seem all that serious. And some of it was. However, there was also a lot of romantic troubles between the two main characters (and in the span of this novella, it seemed to me it was taking up rather a large part of the story). This caused the rest (the actually multiverse) to feel tagged onto the story rather than the other way around. Also, some very stupid actions from the main characters, who have clearly never learnt anything about multiverses etc.

3 Stars
O Frabjous Day!
O Frabjous Day! - Lewis Carroll

I am not overly familiar with Lewis Carroll's work since I never liked Alice in Wonderland too much (the movies, never read the books). His poetry was completely new to me, but after I recently read Edward Lear's nonsense poetry (which was being compared as similar to Lewis Carroll) I was not looking forward to reading O Frabjous Day!. But, every week a Little Black Classics means reading one every week, so here we are.

My expectations were really low for this one, but I found it made at least way more sense than the Lear poems. Some of them still didn't resonance with me at all. But the hunting of the Snark was kind of nice, even though the rhyming was very nursery rhyme-y.

~Little Black Classics #106~

Yeay! They Brought Back The Games!

It's back to playing Bookish Snakes and Ladders this year!

And while being in isolation, surely I must be able to keep up with it, no?


I already have multiple candidates to fill square one!



1. Author is a woman

1 Stars
Nonsense - Edward Lear

This was utter nonsense!

I guess the title should have given fair warning, but I was still surprised at it. Maybe I was missing a lot, but I could not get anything out of these poems and was just hoping the book would finish quickly.

Really not my cup of tea.

~Little Black Classics 100~

4 Stars
Before The Coffee Gets Cold
Before the Coffee Gets Cold - Toshikazu Kawaguchi, Geoffrey Trousselot

I had completely missed out on Before the Coffee Gets Cold earlier. But when I was visiting my sister in London (a month ago - but due to Corona quarantines this seems much longer) this book was staring me in the face everywhere. And it had a cat on the cover (spoiler alert: the cat does not feature in the book) and it is about Time Travel (and have I ever been able to resist Time Travel?). Let's say it was not a big surprise when this book ended up in my suitcase to bring home.

If you could travel into time for the duration of one cup of coffee and without a single chance of changing anything in the present, would you?

The little amount of Japanese books I have previously read, made it clear to me that plot is not the main feature of Japanese literature. I read that Before the Coffee Gets Cold was meant as a play, and it reads that way. But I liked it nevertheless, since I like plays. We follow four people who for various reasons take the trip, and the stories are becoming more and more intimate as the book progresses.

There is a lot of repetition, but since I read the four stories on different days (treating them as a short story each), this did not bother me. I was surprised by the amount of emotion that was conveyed through these 200-odd pages. It touched me more than I expected. Do not however, expect to be given an explanation of the time travel, since there is none.

3.5 Stars
One Hundred and Fifty-Two Days
One Hundred and Fifty-Two Days - Giles Paley-Phillips

This was a beautiful but strange novel told in verse about a boy who cannot be with his terminally sick mother because he himself is struggling with a very nasty bout of pneumonia.

For me it was a bit of a surprise this was in verse, since I expected a normal novel. However, I do think that it allowed to convey the story well. There are a lot of short poems in there, and while some of them would work out of the context of this novel, most really fill a role in this particular story. So, it did take me some time to get used to it, but after a while I enjoyed reading it. The utter sadness of the story came across as well as the little signs of positiveness near the end.

A good read.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

3.5 Stars
Enter The Aardvark
Enter The Aardvark - Jessica Anthony

Aardvark is one of those few words where it is painfully clear the word has Dutch origins, translates to earth-pig but on doing a quick search I learned the aardvark is in fact a close relative to the elephant. And when you stop to think of it, it does make sense on a level: big ears and an interesting snout.

However, back to Enter the Aardvark, a novel with two POVs which both star the said stuffed aardvark as well as a closeted gay man. Their lives couldn’t be more different, one in the spotlight as a congressman preparing for re-election, the other a reclusive taxidermist. As you have probably guessed they have more in common than just the aardvark and their sexual preferences.

Part of the narrative is in second person, which is something I always need to get used to again, but I find it intriguing at the same time. New however, was the extreme unlikableness of the ‘you’ main character, whose hiding behind snarky remarks and neurotically mentioning the price of everything he gets in contact with.

It is a satire of the American political system where success can turn in the blink of an eye. As such, it works. But the ending, the solving of the mystery of the aardvark I thought was a bit absurd and left me a little disappointed.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

2.5 Stars
Face Of Glass
Face of Glass - Damon L. Wakes

I read about Pigeonhole, where you get a piece of a book - a Stave- per day for a limited amount of time. The idea is that everyone who is joining is reading at the same speed as you. Face of Glass was my first try with Pigeonhole, and it worked, but still, I don't really like reading from my phone as opposed to my eReader which reads great.

What I liked about Face of Glass, mainly the stories that were interwoven into the main narrative. The leader of the tribe outsmarted the volcano, the Sun and the Moon. The main story was mwah. It wasn't that it wasn't interesting, but it was all far too easy for the main character. He raises from slave to leader in the blink of an eye, and from that conquers all the remaining problems in a likewise quick fashion. There were 8 staves of this book and I felt that there was hardly any problem that couldn't be solved within one of those. Which was a shame.

~Read through Pigeonhole~

3 Stars
The Little Book of Shakespeare
The Little Book of Shakespeare - D.K. Publishing

This little book of Shakespeare plans to discuss all his plays and his sonnets in general over the space of 200 pages. Therefore, of everything there is only a little bit of information. A short synopsis of each play and a very short analysis. Obviously, these aren't very deep.

I feel this book works best for readers who sometimes want to refresh on play or another every now and then.

3.5 Stars
The Fox & The Little Tanuki
The Fox & The Little Tanuki - Mi Tagawa

The Fox and the Little Tanuki was the first volume of a Japanese series featuring a fox-spirit Senzou who is being punished by having to bring up a little Tanuki, and teach him how to serve the gods. Something that is also lacking in Senzou himself. Together they have all kinds of cute little adventures.

The artwork is very cute, I can not describe it in a different way. It was what first drew me to the book. The story is nice too, but maybe a little bit simplistic at times, probably aimed at a young(er) audience. The one thing I didn’t like was the extreme cliffhanger the book ends on. I always hope that volumes are also able to be read individually, which is difficult in this case.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

#StayHome24in48 -> Extended!

Hi everyone,


Hope that you are doing well! I'm about to enter the second week of serious social distancing, and suddenly it is rather lonely living alone abroad. I'm just so glad this is the time where we can stay in contact with other people via virtual means, or else I think I would have gone mad at this point (and I went two work for two mornings).


I just came across this extra Read-a-thon and while I think there will be more in the coming weeks, it was too good not to join. Although I think I will just keep posting updates after the weekend for the duration of the social distancing (here in Belgium it's currently until April 5th, but they are already saying it will probably be longer).


So yes, let's read.


What I already finished this weekend: (watch out for the reviews)


Ooronoko - Aphra Beth **


The Little Book of Shakespeare ***


4 Stars
Break Your Glass Slippers
Break Your Glass Slippers  - Amanda Lovelace

I’m not an experienced poetry reader but this year I’m trying to branch out towards other genres, and the theme of Break your glass slippers resonated with me, so I wanted to give it a try. The message of female empowerment is great and it comes across strongly.

I also really liked the aesthetic of the book. Some nice drawings and interesting page settings. The lack of capitals for me took some getting used to. The story of Cinderella is taking as the base of the poems, which had a modern style where everything is discussed directly, which I quite liked.

I guess this was my favorite one:

there is nothing
about the girl
who chooses
the ball gown
& the prince.

there is everything
about those
who try to
shame her for
her choices.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! 

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